The Hippopotamus, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too.

Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan.

But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted. With this funny and deliciously readable novel, Stephen Fry takes his place as one of the most talented comic novelists of his generation.


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An earlier work by Stephen Fry, it is set in the classical huis clos of an English country estate. No murders occur, but there is a whodunit atmosphere that is expertly announced on its first pages and keeps you wondering until the denouement (which takes a few pages too many, if truth be told). Mr Fry's wit and erudition are on fine display here, though not as finely measured as in his later work. The use of recondite vocabulary is a bit - dare I say - unctuous, and would be annoying for lesser personalities than Mr Fry's. Rather unsettlingly, the author deftly inserts unorthodox and non-PC views in the narrative, eg on international jewry and on sex with underage boys. All in all, a nice holiday read.

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